And in an outfield that already includes Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Frazier, who is under team control through the 2024 season, playing time will be at a premium.
But Gardner, who hit a career-high 28 home runs in 2019, has continually found a way to keep himself in the lineup. The team has needed him in recent years, regardless of its depth, because of injuries to Hicks, Judge and Stanton.
“Whatever the team needs me to do to help out on a daily basis, I’ll be ready,” Gardner said. “And whatever my role is, I’ll accept it. We’ve got some young players and especially a guy like Clint Frazier, I look forward to continue to help him and see his career really take off this year.”
Acquired in the Andrew Miller trade with the Cleveland Indians in 2016, Frazier was a highly touted prospect who struggled with consistency in his first taste of the majors in 2017. A concussion wiped out nearly all of 2018. And while Frazier’s bat helped the Yankees withstand a rash of injuries in 2019, his fielding misadventures led to a two-and-a-half-month stint in the minor leagues.
Over the years, Frazier ruffled feathers inside and outside the organization with what he did, wore, said and didn’t say. His name surfaced in trade rumors. His ability to stick in the majors was in doubt because of his glove.
But Gardner, a defensive stalwart, was one of the people who Frazier said offered a lot of advice on improving his defense. Despite being vocal in previous seasons about wanting to beat out Gardner for the left-field job, Frazier said he admired the way Gardner treated him, like a little brother.
“There was times when he pulled me over into his room just to put his arm around me and just talk to me because he knew that I was going through some tough times with some distractions that I had caused,” said Frazier, who hit .267 with eight home runs and a .905 on-base-plus-slugging percentage last season.